Approximately 50 to 60 people assembled under leaden skies at the Glebe War Memorial for the Service of Commemoration of Anzac Day on Friday 25 April this year. It would take more than a little bad weather to deter the Glebe community from commemorating its heritage.
The recently restored memorial, containing the names of 174 dead men was originally opened on Anzac Day 1922 by Governor General Foster. It provided a handsome and poignant backdrop for the event. Following the acknowledgement of the original inhabitants of the land, voices were raised in prayer to the strains of Isaac Watts’ Our God, our Help in Ages Past. Led by Father Anthony Walsh, OP, the service continued with an address by Glebe Historian, Max Solling; an extract from Max’s speech appears on the next page.
Max recounted the history of the public projects of WWI and the immediate post-war period which raised memorials in the Inner West to the Fallen of Gallipoli, the Middle East and the Western Front.
Special mention was made of the Glebe memorial in front of which we stood, and its disparagement at the time of its construction. This is described by the Sydney Morning Herald 1:
The war memorial in Glebe’s Foley Park, designed by a prominent anti-conscriptionist, was decried by the architectural magazine Building as ‘’appalling’’ before its unveiling in 1922. The magazine was even more scathing in 1929, saying the memorial ”appears as if it has been composed of discarded pieces found on the premises of a monumental mason. ‘Truly there are worse things than war when such horrible things as this can be perpetrated in times of peace,” it sniffed.’
Following the Ode intoned by Father Walsh, during which the heavens began to weep, wreaths were laid. John Gray, President of the Glebe Society and others placed floral tributes. This was succeeded by the Lament, played by Piper Rob McLean. By its end the drizzle had turned to a deluge, so heavy that those sheltering under umbrellas could barely hear the Benediction.
It was with some haste and much relief that many repaired to St John’s Church for morning tea after the service while others hurried off to find dry garments. Lyn Collingwood remarked that she was reminded of The One Day of the Year, an Australian play about Anzac Day by Alan Seymour originally written in 1958, in which the characters bemoaned the seeming certitude of rain on that day. 2014 proved no exception